On May 1 of last year, the Canucks played their first game of the 2013 postseason. Roberto Luongo was the starting netminder, backed up by Cory Schneider. Alain Vigneault, Rick Bowness and Newell Brown patrolled the benches. Mike Gillis watched from his suite overhead.
One year later to the day, it’s all gone. Those coaches have long since moved on. No Luongo. No Schneider. No Gillis. No playoffs.
Instead, on May 1 of this year, Trevor Linden sat alone at the podium in the Rogers Arena press room, calmly explaining the decision to relieve John Tortorella and Mike Sullivan of their duties so soon after they arrived that they didn’t even get even a mention in the year-old flashback that opened this piece.
The most telling statement of Linden’s presser came before he’d even said a word, when he strode to the podium all by himself. The last time we saw him at that podium, he was sitting next to owner Francesco Aquilini, who remains the man in charge here. But the fans have soured on Francesco, and he knows it, which is why he’s wisely decided to remove himself from the picture and fill it instead with a man that gets them all moony. (All moony. All Mooney is a different thing, and it does nothing for the people of Vancouver, I assure you.)
Trevor. Forget that Laurence Gilman and Lorne Henning remain in AGM positions, Stan Smyl and Ron Delorme are still scouting, and Glen Gulutzan, who presided over that dreadful powerplay play, is still a part of the coaching staff. Just focus on Trevor. Look into his eyes and he saunters in, all handsome with his designer frames and his casual salt-and-pepper five o’clock shadow, and let the frustration at what’s become of this franchise in such a short span of time melt away.
That was then. Linden is now. Say, did you know Trevor rhymes with forever? Imagine if that’s how long you renewed your season tickets for? Wouldn’t that be a neat tribute to Vancouver’s favourite son?
Don’t kid yourself. For many season ticket holders, the coolest part of the letter they received from Trevor Linden this morning explaining that John Tortorella would be staying out East was that they got a letter from Trevor Linden.
“As a Season Ticket Member,” he wrote, “I know you are deeply invested in our team and I wanted to connect with you personally.”
“This is all about looking to the future and creating a new vision,” said Linden, and that’s true in part, but really, it’s more about looking to the recent past and destroying any trace of it. This was the last step in a scorched earth policy.
Linden said several times that the decision to dismiss Tortorella came after considering a bunch of factors, and I’m sure it did. But the biggest factor is the way the fans soured on the leadership, and the direction it was taking this franchise. It’s why Mike Gillis had to go. It’s why, in the end, Tortorella had to go.
”Starting with a clean slate is important,” Linden told the assembled media, echoing what he said in the morning’s letter about a “fresh start”, and where that begins:
It starts with how we shape our management and coaching staffs and the roster improvements we’re able to make. Our goal is to be back in the playoffs next spring as we continue developing this group into a team that can challenge for the Stanley Cup.
We’re also committed to making it exciting to watch Canucks games throughout the season. A Season Ticket Member sent me a message recently saying, ‘We all want ‘The Cup’ of course but we also want to enjoy the ride too.’ We’re going to do everything we can to make that happen. We want to put a team on the ice that creates buzz and anticipation in the city on game days.
Granted, you could argue that this weird, entitled season ticketholder might do well to replace Cup with cake and enjoy the ride with eat it, so as to better realize how big his demands are.
But after what Tortorella did to this team this year, putting the fanbase to sleep, treating the stars like his rescue dogs by neutering them, and turning the team into a sideshow — yet somehow, a boring sideshow, which is crazy, since sideshows are usually pretty entertaining — there was no way that the Canucks could create any buzz or anticipation by announcing he’d be returning. This was the only play.Tags: John Tortorella, Trevor Linden